What next for Gorzo?


WASHINGTON — Tom Gorzelanny’s callup to the Pirates’ bullpen was supposed to last only a couple of days, but he is still with the team. That’s partly due to his success — the lefty has tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings over the past two games, allowing two hits and one walk and getting one strikeout — and the delicate status of relievers John Grabow and Matt Capps.

Neither Grabow nor Capps pitched last night. Sean Burnett blew the save opportunity, but Gorzo wound up the winner when the Pirates scored three runs in the 10th inning. About an hour ago, Russell said he would prefer to give Grabow and Capps time off again tonight.

Gorzelanny could be used out of the bullpen tonight, but for no more than an inning. “Three games in a row, that would be a personal record,” Gorzelanny said, grinning.

Russell saw signs of progress from Gorzelanny in the relief outings. “His focus, intensity and the way he attacked the hitters are the way he used to be as a starter,” Russell said. “I hope he takes this back into when he starts every fifth day. It’s a pretty good indication of what he’s capable of doing.”

Gorzelanny was sent to Triple-A with a couple of weeks left in spring training and spent a good chunk of last season with Indy. Yet, Russell said management has not given up on Gorzo.

“We wouldn’t have him starting (at Indy) and we wouldn’t have him around now if we didn’t believe he could do it,” Russell said. “We always hold on to the (idea) that he’s going to be a major help for us at some point. It’s just the consistency that we wanted him to master in Triple-A. He’s got the stuff. He’s got the velocity. It’s just the consistency — keeping the same arm slot, keeping the same delivery. When he does that, he’s very effective.

“He showed us good signs in spring training. The biggest reason we didn’t keep him was he wasn’t the same pitcher every pitch. He needs to find that consistency. Hopefully, this is a jump start for him when he gets back down there (to Indy) and will boost his confidence.”

• If Gorzo conquers his consistency issues, he could supplant Jeff Karstens in the rotation. Karstens (1-2, 5.21) turned in an uneven performance last night — retiring the first five batters he faced with ease, then yielding three runs on four hits and a walk against the last seven batters he faced. Perhaps Karstens would be better suited to a long relief role.

• Pitching change for Thursday: Daniel Cabrera (0-5, 5.95 ERA) was supposed to start for the Nationals, but has been banished to the bullpen. Right-hander Craig Stammen, a 12th-round draft pick in 2005, will make his major league debut. In seven starts for Triple-A Syracuse, Stammen is 4-2 with a 1.80 ERA.


Four in a row


WASHINGTON — Don’t look now, but the Pirates are just three games under .500 after putting together a season-best four-game winning streak. Their longest streak last season was six wins.

• The Sporting News assembled a panel of 100 “Hall of Famers, major award winners and other baseball personalities” to compile its list of the 50 best active players in the majors.

The top three: Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez and Johan Santana. The only ex-Pirate on the list is Jason Bay (No. 41). There are no current Pirates on the list.

The panel of voters included Bob Friend, Sean Casey, Dave Giusti, Vern Law and Lloyd McClendon.

• As a former resident of the DC area, I know the locals have a special disdain for the tourists who flock here. One reason might have something to do with this line I overheard during a conversation between two 20something women this afternoon at the National Gallery: “You’d think that an avant-garde art museum like this would have cooler bathrooms.” Um, whatever.

• Lineups for today’s game:

PIRATES — 1.Nyjer Morgan lf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Nate McLouth cf, 4. Craig Monroe rf, 5. Adam LaRoche 1b, 6. Robinzon Diaz c, 7. Andy LaRoche 3b, 8. Jack Wilson ss, 9. Paul Maholm (3-1, 3.51) lhp

NATIONALS — 1. Cristian Guzman ss, 2. Nick Johnson 1b, Ryan Zimmerman 3b, 4. Adam Dunn lf, 5. Austin Kearns rf, 6. Ronnie Belliard 2b, 7. Justin Maxwell cf, 8. Wil Nieves c, 9. John Lannan (2-3, 4.00) lhp


Ohlendorf familiar with Jackson


WASHINGTON — Ross Ohlendorf is familiar with right-hander Steve Jackson, whom the Pirates claimed Monday off waivers from the Yankees. In January 2007, both were part of a five-player trade between New York and Arizona which also involved Randy Johnson.

Ohlendorf and Jackson were roommates while together in the Yankees system.

“I’m looking forward to seeing him again,” Ohlendorf said. “I think he can help add some depth to our bullpen. He has a good split (-fingered fastball) that he can get strikeouts with, a good fastball and throws a lot of strikes.”

Is there anybody left in the Yankees system from the Johnson trade?

“(Jackson) was the last one,” Ohlendorf said. “Alberto Gonzalez came over the Nationals. He was with them at the beginning of the year, but I don’t know if he got hurt or was sent down.”

Gonzalez was traded to the Nats last year. He now is playing at Triple-A Syracuse. The other player the Yanks got in that deal, Luis Vizcaino, was traded to the Cubs four months ago.

• Nyjer Morgan’s left hamstring felt fine during pregame running drills. He’s back in the lineup tonight after a three-game layoff.

• Manager John Russell said the bullpen will be a bit thin tonight because he will try to avoid using Matt Capps, John Grabow and Jesse Chavez. That leaves Evan Meek, Donnie Veal, Tom Gorzelanny and Sean Burnett. Who would close, if need be? “We’ll have to see how it works out,” Russell said, noting that Capps could work the ninth if necessary. “It’d be awfully hard to take the ball out of Matt’s hands.”

• Ex-Bucco update: Jason Kendall on Monday became the eighth full-time catcher to reach 2,000 career hits.

• Lineups for today’s game:

PIRATES — 1. Nyjer Morgan lf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Nate McLouth cf, 4. Adam LaRoche 1b, 5. Brandon Moss rf, 6. Andy LaRoche 3b, 7. Jason Jaramillo c, 8. Jack Wilson ss, 9. Jeff Karstens (1-2, 5.06) rhp

NATIONALS — 1. Cristian Guzman ss, 2. Nick Johnson 1b, Ryan Zimmerman 3b, 4. Adam Dunn rf, 5. Josh Willingham lf, 6. Willie Harris cf, 7. Anderson Hernandez 2b, 8. Wil Nieves c, 9. Shairon Martis (5-0, 4.10) rhp


Altoona’s roster in flux


WASHINGTON — Changes are coming to the Double-A Altoona roster, as Pirates management is unhappy with the performance of several players.

Yesterday, outfielder Brad Corley was taken off the Curve’s active roster and reassigned to short-season Class A State College. The move is merely a formality, though: The Pirates are working to trade Corley.

Corley, 25, was the Pirates’ second-round draft pick in 2005. In 21 games with Altoona, Corley hit .221 with four homers and 21 RBI.

The Curve is 12-24 and has lost two in a row. Corley’s departure is part of a larger shakeup. In the past couple of days, two players acquired via trades — righty Randy Newsom and outfielder Jeff Corsaletti — have been added to Altoona’s roster.

Among the players who are struggling are outfielder Jason Delaney (12th round, 2005), who’s batting .198; Jeff Sues (fifth round, 2005), who’s on the 40-man roster and has a 5.18 ERA in 11 relief outings; and Dan Moskos (first round, 2007), who has a 4.41 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in seven games (six starts).

“We’re sorting through some options and have had a number of players there not perform — last year or this year,” farm director Kyle Stark said. “I imagine we’ll have resolution (with Corley) sooner rather than later.”

• Brad “Big County” Eldred hit a solo homer Monday night off Daniel McCutchen to help Syracuse beat Triple-A Indianapolis, 4-2. Eldred played for the Pirates in 2005 and ’07. Indy third baseman Neil Walker went 2 for 4 with two RBI. In a two-game stretch, Walker has driven in all five of Indy’s runs.


Wilson slugs. Gorzo deals. Diaz … walks?


WASHINGTON — Yuniesky who?

Tonight, Jack Wilson racked up his 13th career four-hit game with an infield single, double, two-run double and a triple.

Wilson also made an absolutely sick defensive play in the fourth inning to rob Ryan Zimmerman of a hit. Wilson snagged the ball deep toward third base, spun in the air and fired to first. The throw was true and nestled into Adam LaRoche’s glove an instant before Zimmerman reached the bag.

• If I could’ve, I would’ve printed up “I was there …” commemorative T-shirts tonight and passed them out in the press box. Those who were at Nats Park tonight saw history: Cristian Guzman and Robinzon Diaz both walked.

Guzman had made 121 plate appearances without taking a free pass until Ross Ohlendorf handed him one on four pitches in the fifth inning. In the seventh, ex-Bucco Kip Wells put the free-swinging Diaz on base, snapping a run of 46 plate apps without a walk.

Ohlendorf said he was aware Guzman didn’t have a walk. Guzman batted in the fifth with a runner at second and two outs and the Pirates up 3-1.

“He already had two hits off me,” Ohlendorf said. “With a runner in scoring position, I didn’t want to give him something to hit. That was my plan, so I wasn’t upset about that walk.”

Guzman didn’t drive in a run, but the next batter did. Nick Johnson crushed a three-run homer to give the Nats a short-lived lead.

• Welcome back, Tom Gorzelanny. The lefty made his 2009 debut tonight and it was good and quick — a four-pitch strikeout of Adam Dunn in the eighth. Gorzelanny set him up with sliders and got the whiff on a sweet curveball.

“It was a big out,” manager John Russell said. “We bring him in a situation he’s not really used to face one of the better power hitters in the league, and he got a big strikeout for us. It was good to see.”

It was Gorzelanny’s first strikeout as a reliever since 2005.

“Definitely a different feeling,” Gorzelanny said. “It’s good to come back up (from the minors) and be used. It also was pretty nerve-racking.”

Before the game, Russell talked around an answer when asked how long Gorzo might stay up with the Pirates. Some of it might depend upon how Jeff Karstens performs Tuesday night against the Nats. Or, more likely, Gorzo will be sent back to Indy so he can keep working as a starter and keep waiting for another chance to return.

• The Pirates snapped an eight-game road losing streak. … They’ve tallied 11 or more hits in seven their past eight games.


Another Wilson trade rumor


WASHINGTON — Another Jack Wilson trade rumor has surfaced. Mariners beat writer Geoff Baker said in his blog there has been discussion about sending Wilson to Seattle for shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt.

The M’s are very unhappy with Betancourt’s defense — he made an error Sunday which helped cut short starter Jason Vargas’ outing. Betancourt is 27, four years younger than Wilson, and has a bit more punch offensively.

Betancourt’s career OPS is .702, compared to Wilson’s .685. However, Betancourt’s fielding percentage is .969, compared to Wilson’s .977.

Then, there’s the money issue. Wilson, in the final year of his contract, will make $7.25 million this year. The Pirates almost certainly will pay him a $600,000 buyout rather than pick up his $8.4 million option for 2010.

Betancourt will earn $2.3 million this year, $3 million in 2010 and $4 million in 2011. He has a $2 million buyout for 2012.

GM Neal Huntington, per the team’s usual policy, declined to comment on or confirm any possible trade talks.


Morgan scratched; Jackson claimed, Barthmaier cut


WASHINGTON — Nyjer Morgan was scratched from the lineup a few minutes ago. Morgan still is feeling a pinch in his sore left hamstring, which he injured while making a catch Friday night.

Morgan told manager John Russell he couldn’t go after doing some running on the field before batting practice. Morgan can handle straight-ahead sprints without problem, but feels a tweak when he makes a turn.

“I feel like a sissy,” Morgan said. “I don’t think it’s a major injury. But I’ve got to be smart about it.”

• The Pirates claimed right-hander Steve Jackson off waivers from the New York Yankees. To clear room on the 40-man roster, righty Jimmy Barthmaier was unconditionally released.

Jackson, 27, had one save and a 1.88 ERA in seven games (one start) this season for Triple-A Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He was designated for assignment May 8.

Jackson was assigned to Triple-A Indianapolis. He was drafted in 2004 in the 10th round by Arizona, and traded to the Yankees in 2007 as part of a package which included Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf.

• Weird Note of the Day: Tonight will mark the first time in major league history that two pitchers with the first name Ross (Ohlendorf and Nats lefty Ross Detwiler) start against each other.

• Class A Lynchburg already has two inside-the-park homers this season. Jordy Mercer hit one a week ago. Friday, Miles Durham tied the game against Wilmington in the eighth inning with a three-run inside job.

• Paul Maholm was the winner of fan voting online to determine the final bobblehead giveaway of the season. Maholm’s mini-me will be handed out Sept. 25.

# Lineups for today’s game:

PIRATES — 1. Delwyn Young rf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Nate McLouth cf, 4. Craig Monroe lf, 5. Adam LaRoche 1b, 6. Robinzon Diaz c, 7. Andy LaRoche 3b, 8. Jack Wilson ss, 9. Ross Ohlendorf (4-3, 3.77) rhp

NATIONALS — 1. Cristian Guzman ss, 2. Nick Johnson 1b, Ryan Zimerman 3b, 4. Adam Dunn rf, 5. Josh Willingham lf, 6. Willie Harris cf, 7. Anderson Hernandez 2b, 8. Josh Bard c, 9. Ross Detwiler (season debut) lhp


PIrates rout Rockies with 10-run seventh


The Pirates took out a month’s worth of offensive frustrations in one inning Sunday afternoon, scoring 10 runs in the seventh in an 11-4 victory over the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park.

The Pirates, who sent 14 batters to the plate, had nine hits in the inning and scored eight runs before the Rockies recorded their first out.

Nate McLouth and Delwyn Young each had two hits during the outburst, in which the Pirates turned a 4-1 deficit into an 11-4 laugher.

Freddy Sanchez’s RBI-double, a two-run single by McLouth and a two-run double by Andy LaRoche were among the highlights of the inning, which was the Pirates first 10-run inning since Aug. 20, 2003 at St. Louis.

Since 1900, the Pirates have scored more than 10 runs in an inning only twice, scoring 11 in 1992 and 1942.

McLouth, who hit his seventh home run in the third, finished 3-for-5 with four RBI. Zach Duke (5-3) allowed four runs on six hits in seven innings for the win. Alan Embree (1-2), one of three relievers who followed an effective start by Ubaldo Jimenez, took the loss.

— By John Grupp


Rockies, Pirates starting lineups


Left fielder Nyjer Morgan (left hamstring) is out of the lineup for the second consecutive day, and Delwyn Young will bat leadoff and play right field. Here are the lineups for today’s 1:35 p.m. game with the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park.

ROCKIES – 1. Ryan Spilborghs cf, 2. Clint Barmes 2b, 3. Troy Tuowitzki ss, 4. Brad Hawpe rf, 5. Matt Murton lf, 6. Garrett Atkins 1b, 7. Yorvit Torrealba c, 8. Ian Stewart 3b, 9. rhp Ubaldo Jimenez (3-4, 4-73)

PIRATES – 1. Delwyn Young rf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Nate McLouth cf, 4. Adam LaRoche 1b, 5. Robinzon Diaz c, 6. Brandon Moss lf, 7. Andy LaRoche 3b, 8. Jack Wilson ss, 9. lhp Zach Duke (4-3, 2.52)

— By John Grupp


Yates on DL, Gorzelanny recalled


The Pirates placed Tyler Yates (right elbow inflammation) on the 15-day disabled list Sunday and recalled left-handed pitcher Tom Gorzelanny from Triple-A Indianapolis. Gorzelanny was 1-1 with 3.98 ERA with 36 strikeouts and 16 walks in 40.2 innings.

Also the Pirates have acquired right-handed pitcher Randy Newsom from the Cleveland Indians for future considerations (cash or personnel). Newsom will be assigned to Double-A Altoona, which will merely require walking across the field today, as Double-A Akron is playing in Altoona this weekend.

— By John Grupp